Articles Posted in California Courts of Appeal

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The Castillos were employed and paid by GCA, a temporary staffing company, to perform work on-site at Glenair. Glenair was authorized to and did record, review, and report the Castillos’ time records to GCA so that the Castillos could be paid. In a wage and hours putative class action, the Castillos characterized GCA and Glenair as joint employers. While their case was pending, a separate class action brought against, among others, GCA resulted in a final, court-approved settlement agreement, “Gomez,” which contains a broad release barring settlement class members from asserting wage and hour claims such as those alleged by the Castillos against GCA and its agents. The Castillos are members of the Gomez settlement class and did not opt out of that settlement. The Castillos claims against Glenair involve the same wage and hour claims, for the same work done, covering the same time period as the claims asserted in Gomez. The court of appeal affirmed summary judgment rejecting the Castillo suit. Because Glenair is in privity with GCA (a defendant in Gomez) and is an agent of GCA, the Gomez settlement bars the Castillos’ claims against Glenair as a matter of law. View "Castillo v. Glenair, Inc." on Justia Law

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n 2008, Riske, a Los Angeles police officer from 1990 until his 2014 retirement, reported two fellow officers for filing false reports and testified against them. Afterward, Riske’s colleagues referred to him as a “snitch” and refused to work with him, even ignoring Riske’s requests for assistance in the field. From 2011-2013 Riske applied for 14 highly desirable detective positions. Notwithstanding his superior qualifications, each application was denied, in favor of less experienced or less qualified persons. Riske sued for unlawful retaliation, Labor Code 1102.5, and sought (Evidence Code 1043 and 10451) to obtain summary personnel records relied on by the city in making assignment and promotion decisions. Following a remand, the superior court conducted ordered the requested personnel records to be produced but, pursuant to section 1045(b)(1), which excludes from disclosure “[i]nformation consisting of complaints concerning conduct occurring more than five years before the event or transaction that is the subject of the litigation,” the court ordered redaction of all items concerning conduct that had occurred more than five years before Riske filed his 2014 complaint. The court of appeal again ruled in favor of Riske, holding that section 1045(b) has no application to the personnel reports sought in this case, which are not citizen complaints. View "Riske v. Superior Court" on Justia Law

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The Board of Directors (the Board) of Bear Valley Community Hospital (Bear Valley) refused to promote Dr. Robert O. Powell from provisional to active staff membership and reappointment to Bear Valley's medical staff. Dr. Powell appealed the superior court judgment denying his petition for writ of mandate to void the Board's decision and for reinstatement of his medical staff privileges. Dr. Powell practiced medicine in both Texas and California as a general surgeon. In 2000, the medical executive committee of Brownwood Regional Medical Center (Brownwood), in Texas, found that Dr. Powell failed to advise a young boy's parents that he severed the boy's vas deferens during a hernia procedure or of the ensuing implications. Further, the committee found that Dr. Powell falsely represented to Brownwood's medical staff, on at least two occasions, that he fully disclosed the circumstances to the parents, behavior which the committee considered to be dishonest, obstructive, and which prevented appropriate follow-up care. Based on the committee's findings, Brownwood terminated Dr. Powell's staff membership and clinical privileges. In subsequent years, Dr. Powell obtained staff privileges at other medical facilities. In October 2011, Dr. Powell applied for appointment to the medical staff at Bear Valley. On his initial application form, Dr. Powell was given an opportunity to disclose whether his clinical privileges had ever been revoked by any medical facility. In administrative hearings generated by the Bear Valley Board’s decision, there was a revelation that Dr. Powell had not been completely forthcoming about the Brownwood termination, and alleged the doctor mislead the judicial review committee (“JRC”) about the circumstances leading to that termination. Under Bear Valley's bylaws, Dr. Powell had the right to an administrative appeal of the JRC's decision; he chose, however, to bypass an administrative appeal and directly petition the superior court for a writ of mandamus. In superior court, Dr. Powell filed a petition for writ of mandate under Code of Civil Procedure sections 1094.5 and 1094.6, seeking to void the JRC's/Board's decision and to have his medical privileges reinstated. The trial court denied the petition, and this appeal followed. On appeal of the superior court’s denial, Dr. Powell argued he was entitled to a hearing before the lapse of his provisional staff privileges: that the Board surreptitiously terminated his staff privileges, presumably for a medical disciplinary cause, by allowing his privileges to lapse and failing to act. The Court of Appeal determined the Bear Valley Board had little to no insight into the true circumstances of Dr. Powell’s termination at Brownwood or the extent of his misrepresentations, thus the Board properly exercised independent judgment based on the information presented. In summary, the Court of Appeal concluded Bear Valley provided Dr. Powell a fair procedure in denying his request for active staff privileges and reappointment to the medical staff. View "Powell v. Bear Valley Community Hospital" on Justia Law

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Ochoa, terminated from his employment as a Kern County Deputy Sheriff, claimed violation of the Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights Act (Gov. Code 3300) by failure to complete an administrative investigation of his alleged misconduct (sexual advances toward a woman younger than 18) and to notify him of the proposed disciplinary action within one year of the public agency’s discovery by a person authorized to initiate said investigation. Ochoa argued that a sergeant initiated an investigation of his alleged misconduct on March 25, 2013, and an internal affairs investigator notified him of the proposed termination on August 11, 2014.The superior court denied the petition. The court of appeal affirmed. Although the sergeant could not initiate an internal affairs investigation, he was “a person authorized to initiate an investigation” of the allegation within the meaning of the statute, so the one-year limitations period commenced March 25, 2013. The Sheriff’s Office acted in a timely manner because the first criminal investigation sufficiently tolled the limitations period. The statute requires the tolling of the one-year statute of limitations while a criminal investigation is pending if the misconduct is the subject of that investigation. View "Ochoa v. County of Kern" on Justia Law

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Los Angeles County fired Merritt, a supervisor in the Department of Children and Family Services, for failing to adequately supervise a social worker, Clement, and approving Clement’s closure of a case of suspected child abuse without first consulting the Department’s records, as required by Department policy. Those records indicated the child (eight-year-old Gabriel) was at risk of further abuse and that the file should not have been closed. Less than two months later Gabriel’s mother and her boyfriend beat Gabriel to death. A Civil Service Commission hearing officer found Merritt negligent, but set aside the discharge and imposed a 10-day suspension. Without reading the record or receiving further evidence, the Commission adopted the findings, substituting a 30-day suspension. The Superior Court concluded the Commission set forth insufficient findings to support its decision and remanded. Merritt’s counsel acknowledged that the interlocutory order would not be subject to appellate review. Nevertheless, Merritt appealed. The court of appeal dismissed. While an otherwise nonfinal order remanding a matter to an administrative agency may be appealable if it affects substantial rights and may, as a practical matter, be unreviewable after resolution of the merits, the order from which Merritt purported to appeal left key issues for future resolution. The propriety of that order can be resolved in any future appeal from a final judgment. View "County of Los Angeles v. Los Angeles County Civil Service Commission" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal affirmed the denial of appellants' petition for a writ of mandate, contending that the written reprimands they received from the sheriff's department should be rescinded because they did not receive notice of proposed discipline within the one-year statute of limitations period in the Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights Act (POBRA). The court held that the notice of proposed discipline was timely in regard to the May 2014 reprimands because the Department's investigation was completed and the initial reprimand was issued before the one year limitations period. The court held that the September 2014 reprimands were not subject to the one year limitations period, and they did not constitute new discipline or alleged different conduct. Because the court did not find any POBRA violation, the court did not address appellants' request for civil penalties and sanctions. View "Squire v. County of Los Angeles" on Justia Law

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Aerotek provided temporary employees to Bay Bread. The temporary employees worked “under [Bay Bread’s] management and supervision.” Bread agreed to comply with federal, state, and local laws. Aerotek’s meal break policies were contained in an employee handbook, which stated that any problems should be discussed with supervisors. Bread set the temporary employees' schedules; they took their meal breaks to “ensur[e] that everyone got an uninterrupted meal break by the time five hours of their shift elapsed” based on “when things needed to come in and out of the oven.” Aerotek’s on-site account manager, Scott, visited the production facility twice daily but did not look for meal break issues. Aerotek hired Serrano as a temporary Bread employee; she acknowledged receipt of Aerotek’s employee handbook and signed forms waiving a meal period on days she worked no more than six hours. When she worked more than six hours, she sometimes took her meal breaks more than five hours after beginning work or did not take them. She never discussed the issue with Scott. Serrano filed a putative class action for failure to provide meal periods (Labor Code 226.7, 512), failure to pay wages upon termination, unfair competition, and Private Attorneys General Act penalties. The court of appeal affirmed a judgment for Aerotek. Proof that an employer had knowledge of employees working through meal periods will not alone subject the employer to liability; an employer is not required to “police” meal breaks. View "Serrano v. Aerotek, Inc." on Justia Law

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Karen Hayes appealed a judgment denying her writ of mandate petition seeking an order directing the Temecula Valley School District (District) to reinstate her as a middle school principal. The District removed Hayes as principal and reassigned her to a teaching position for the 2015-2016 school year under its statutory authority to reassign a school principal without cause. Hayes contended the court erred in denying her writ petition because: (1) the District's notice of the no-cause reassignment was untimely as the governing school board (Board) did not approve the notice until two days after the statutory deadline; (2) her removal was in fact "for cause" and therefore she was entitled to a hearing and due process before the removal and reassignment; and (3) her placement on paid administrative leave violated statutes and internal District policies. On the first issue, the Court of Appeal determined the notice was timely because the statutes did not require school board preapproval for an Education Code section 44951 notice to be valid. The remaining contentions were without merit on the factual record reviewed by the Court. View "Hayes v. Temecula Valley Unified Sch. Dist." on Justia Law

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Six judges who were elected to the superior court in mid-term elections in 2012, but who did not take office until January 7, 2013, claimed entitlement to benefits under the Judges’ Retirement System II (JRS II) as in effect at the time they were elected, rather than at the time they assumed office. On January 1, 2013, JRS II became subject to the California Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act of 2013 (PEPRA), Government Code section 75500, which amended virtually all state employee retirement systems to address the state’s enormous unfunded pension liability and return these systems to actuarially sound footing. PEPRA increases employee contributions, provides for fluctuating contribution rates based on market performance and actuarial projections, and bases the amount of monthly pension payments on an employee’s final three years of compensation, rather than on only the final year. The court of appeal held that the judges did not obtain a vested right in JRS II benefits as judges-elect, but rather obtained a vested right to retirement benefits only upon taking office after PEPRA went into effect. PEPRA’s provisions pertaining to fluctuating pension contributions do not violate the non-diminution clause of the California Constitution nor do they impermissibly delegate legislative authority over judicial compensation. View "McGlynn v. State of California" on Justia Law

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In 2003, after a lengthy period of employment as a firefighter with the United States Forest Service, George Corley accepted a position with the San Bernardino County Fire Protection District as a battalion chief. Corley was promoted to the rank of division chief in 2005. In May 2011, the County of San Bernardino's Chief Executive Officer, Greg Devereaux, appointed Mark Hartwig as Fire Chief for the District. Chief Hartwig terminated Corley's employment with the District in February 2012. At the time of his discharge, Corley was 58 years old, and was the oldest of the District's six division chiefs. Corley filed this action against the District. A jury trial was held on a single cause of action for age discrimination under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (Gov. Code, section 12900 et seq.). The jury rendered a special verdict in which it found that Corley's age was a substantial motivating reason for the District's termination of his employment and awarded damages for lost earnings. On appeal, the District contended the trial court erred in denying its request to instruct the jury pursuant to a provision in the Firefighters' Procedural Bill of Rights (section 3254 (c)). The District also claimed the trial court erred in instructing the jury that "the use of salary as the basis for differentiating between employees when terminating employment may be a factor used to constitute age discrimination" if the employer's termination policy adversely affected older workers. The District further contended there was insufficient evidence to support the jury's award of damages based on its implicit finding that Corley would have been promoted but for the District's discrimination. Furthermore, the District claimed the trial court abused its discretion in applying a multiplier in awarding Corley statutory attorney fees. In the published portion of its opinion, the Court of Appeal interpreted section 3254 (c) and concluded the trial court did not err in refusing to instruct the jury pursuant to this provision. In unpublished portions of the discussion, the Court concluded the District failed to establish any reversible error with respect to its remaining claims. View "Corley v. San Bernardino County Fire Protection Dist." on Justia Law